Spanish Cheesecake with Mixed Berry Sauce, Crème Fraiche and Fresh Mint
By Heidi Allison
A Basque Burnt Cheesecake is very different from a New York-Style cheesecake: it is not as sweet, has no crust, and is a dense, yet creamy cheesecake with burnt edges that gives it a slightly bitter hit—a nice juxtaposition in flavors— similar to the burnt sugar topping of a creamy Crème Brulee.
A sophisticated cheesecake cooked in a very hot oven—400 to 425°F vs. the usual 325°F in a water bath (the traditional, low-and-slow cooking method for a New York cheesecake), a Spanish cheesecake is much easier to prepare—even a novice baker can pull this dish off. No dropping of oven temperatures, no water bath, or issues with a soggy crust if water seeps past the foil liner.
This recipe is inspired by both the Spanish-Style Burnt Cheesecake, and, the iconic New York style cheesecake, in that it is cooked in a hot oven without a water bath, which makes this a “goof-proof” recipe. It’s also less caloric than the Basque-style cake in that the traditional 1 3/4 cups of whipping cream has been eliminated—without compromise—and, no buttered graham cracker crust. Topped with a fresh mixed berry sauce, a dollop of Creme Fraiche and fresh mint, this easy recipe makes a great dessert—or breakfast! Just make sure to cool the cake in the fridge overnight, which firms up the texture.
Serves: 6 large pieces
Cheese Cake Ingredients:
4 8 oz. packages cream cheese (2 pounds), room temperature
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
Zest of 1 organic lemon
¼ cup whipping cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 9-inch, heavy gauge springform pan. Place 1 large sheet of parchment paper into springform pan, then lay the other piece of parchment paper across the first in a cross fashion so that all edges of pan are covered. Lightly film parchment paper with butter on inside of springform. Trim top edges of parchment paper so that 2-inches come over the top of springform pan and set aside.
Place cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and slowly bring speed up to medium, and beat for 2-3 minutes until cream cheese is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides with a spatula several times.
Add 1 egg at a time, add ¼ whipping cream after eggs, allowing the cream cheese mixture to incorporate, then add salt and vanilla. (FYI: My 5th cheesecake (see below): its a sophisticated yet simple dessert--the slightly bitter hit from burnt top juxtaposed with dense, rich creamy filling is devine!)
Continue to mix for about 3 minutes, then add lemon zest and slowly add flour and mix for another 2 minutes.
Pour cheesecake batter into parchment-lined springform pan and tap several times on counter to remove air bubbles. Place cheesecake on middle rack of oven and bake for 55 minutes. Check cheesecake—it should be light brown and have a very slight jiggle in the center. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for several hours, then fold over parchment paper towards center to cover, and top with a layer of saran wrap and foil and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Fresh Berry Sauce:
12 oz. organic raspberries
6 oz. organic blackberries
18 oz. organic blueberries
Juice of 2 lemons, (about 2 Tbsp.)
3/4 cup sugar
Combine berries, reserving 2 ounces of blueberries, into a large bowl and gently mix with your hands to combine. Place 2/3 of berries, sugar and lemon juice into a medium enameled Dutch oven or non-reactive pot, and stir gently to combine. Heat on medium heat until gently boiling, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until syrupy and thickened.
Place hot berry mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Place a large fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and pour berry mixture into strainer. Using the back of a large, serving spoon, gently push spoon in a circular motion, forcing berry puree into bowl. Discard seeds left in the strainer.
Cover puree and place in the refrigerator for several hours to thicken up and cool down.
Right before serving, fold remaining 2 ounces of fresh blueberries into berry sauce. Remove cheesecake from fridge, uncover and top with fresh berry sauce, a hefty dollop of Creme Fraiche and a sprig of fresh mint right before serving.